The recent hijacking attempt on board a Boeing 737 makes you really think if we are really safe when flying. The plane, flying from Washington DC’s Dulles Airport to Denver International, was forced to turn back after a passenger failed to comply with crew instructions and started showing signs of aggression. People claim he start yelling “Jihad! Jihad!” as he ran down the aisle before being confronted and tackled down by the other passengers. What are we to do in case a hijack situation arises?
Since 9/11, the number one fear amongst the passengers of a plane is not the one involving a scenario in which the plane would crash but that of the plane being hijacked. And since the nation’s airport baggage screening system is now working as it should and seems to be going bad we might find ourselves in a situation in which the security and integrity of the aircraft might be compromised.
Before getting on the plane, you will have to spend quite “some time” in the airport and it is important to make sure you don’t inadvertently aid a potential hijacker. You have to pay attention to your surroundings an act in case of need. Here are some things to be aware of while you’re at an airport:
- You need to watch your bags and personal belongings at all times. Do not leave them out of sight!
- Do not accept packages or luggage from strangers. Trying to pin down a hazardous item on an unsuspecting victim it is a favorite plot of potential hijacker or terrorist. There are many cases in which criminals used unwitting passengers to carry bombs or other dangerous items on board aircraft by tricking them or by simply slipping the items into unwatched bags. It is a tactic used especially by drug traffickers, which transform regular citizens in drug mules without them even knowing it.
- If you observe there are unattended bags or packages anywhere in the airport terminal or parking area, it is your duty to immediately report them to the airport security or any other authority that you can find.
- If you observe any suspicious activities or individuals in the airport or parking lot it is wise to report it to the airport security. Better safe than sorry!
- Don’t be irresponsible and joke around about having hazardous items (like bombs, firearms, etc.) while in the airport terminal or on the airport grounds. And don’t discuss subjects like terrorism, weapons, explosives or anything that might be considered a treat when going through the security checkpoint. You’re not in the movies, it’s not a funny joke and these subjects are treated very seriously by the airport personnel as they are trained to consider these simple comments as real threats. Penalties can be severe, and can include the possibility of time in prison and/or fines.
Now that you are on board, it’s time to enjoy your flight and spend your time as comfortable as possible, without worrying. In an ideal world all you would need to worry about would be the air turbulences. Unfortunately we don’t live in such a world and we have to be prepared for the unexpected.
In case the plane is hijacked the first thing you need to remember is that, the hijackers will be extremely nervous and probably as scared as you are. Although they may appear calm, they cannot be trusted to behave reasonably or rationally. Fear can trigger a disaster. One wrong move by either a victim or a hijacker could easily set off a defensive spate of violence.
Here are the main guidelines to consider for surviving a hijacking:
- Travel with an airline that has no or few political enemies. This may be hard to do as most flying companies have enemies of some sort. However, you can do a research online, regarding the company you’re flying with, the route established for your flight and so on.
- Do not wear Army or ex-Army clothing. You will be spotted by the hijackers and they will deal with you first. In their mind anything related to security forces has to be eliminated or contained.
- Do not carry on your luggage in Army issue bags or rucksacks. It’s the same thing as wearing military clothes, if they spot the luggage they will ask around to identify the owner and deal with him/her. Most passengers will point you out just to be left alone and stay safe.
- If the plane is hijacked, keep quiet and don’t draw attention to yourself. You don’t want to be a troublemaker, unless you don’t have any other choice.
- Observe the terrorist’s activities very carefully. If you do escape, you’ll be able to help secure forces. Any detail can help improve security and prevent future hijacking attempts.
- Stay in tourist class. ‘Neutral’ seating in tourist class is less likely to attract attention than first class. If the terrorists wish to show their determination, they may shoot the hostages, and these are likely to have been chosen from passengers who are obviously important.
- If kept in close quarters with a hijacker, talk about your own and his family. Making yourself a real, normal person in his eyes will be better. Don’t talk politics as you might anger them.
- If you can feign symptoms of sickness and keep it up, you may be released in an interim deal. It’s not a brave act, but it will keep you alive.
- Don’t wear religious or other insignia. The hijackers may not share your beliefs! No T-shirts with political slogans either!
- Travel in loose, comfortable clothing. If you are hijacked you’ll have to keep yourself cool, clean and healthy for some time. Play mind games to keep yourself sane.
- Don’t carry military documents on board. Pack them in your main luggage. If a hijacker finds out you’re connected, you’ll be singled out for rough treatment.
- If the aircraft you are on is hijacked the best way to stay alive is not to attract attention. When hijackers make their move, they are looking for opposition. Anyone who looks like they’re trying to stop them is likely to be killed.
- Keep your eyes open, your mouth shut… and don’t volunteer for anything!
- If it looks like you going to die, fight back. This is your last resort and your only chance to survive when things go down. If other passengers will join in you will increase your odds for survival.
There could be cases that require you to take action while on board the aircraft. This is a decision only you can make. No one can tell you what to do and when to do it, but remember that if you decide to take action you could cause more harm than good. In the end it is your decision to make based upon the circumstance of the situation taking place and what you KNOW for fact before you act.
Stay Safe and God Bless!
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